A Cleveland librarian chronicles the emergence of her inner road warrior. Jill was very unhealthy- tipping the scales at nearly 300 pounds when an email from her younger sister convinced her that she needs to change her ways. Self described “slow runner”, Jill often finds herself at the end of races with organizers closing the course behind her. Thus the title of her eventual podcast and this book: Running with a Police Escort.
Jill reminded me of my younger sister, another “slow runner” who took up running for health reasons. I have a great deal of respect for people who have the courage to make major life changes- be that taking up a sport, counting calories, or giving up meat products. It is so easy to let life determine who you are becoming instead of taking full responsibility for your choices. Jill’s point in this memoir is that it doesn’t matter how fast or slow you go, you win if you’re making even the smallest steps towards your goals. In this passage, she’s closing down the race, like usual: “…I happened to see one of the policemen on the street gesture to get my attention and point to the car following me. I pulled out my earbuds and from the sidewalk he called out with a supportive smile, “You must be a very important person to have a police escort!” loc 72, ebook.
Jill relates her unathletic/uncoordinated childhood and I felt a lot of sympathy for her bookworm tendencies: “While (my classmates) ran wild, I’d find a quiet corner along the brick wall of the building and bury myself in a book. My favorites were the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark series, the macabre illustrations haunting my dreams.” loc 162, ebook. That probably would have been one of my favorites too, but my school library’s copy was always checked out. Not that I’m bitter or anything.
Jill reminds the reader that people don’t get to nearly 300 pounds without a reason why- an underlying pain that they’re insulating themselves from. For Jill, it seems that she was chronically lacking in self esteem and self love. I loved reading about her getting her mojo back: Truthfully, I didn’t even know how much I weighed because the analog scale that I owned didn’t go up that high. … I don’t know if I can verbally express what it means to be so heavy that you literally outweigh your scale’s capabilities. Like, seriously. Just think about that for a second, okay? A scale has a pretty basic function… and I had gotten so big, I put my scale out of work.” loc 312, ebook.
Running with a Police Escort is a great book for those who are struggling with their weight or the decision to become more healthy. Jill isn’t afraid to laugh at herself and there is quite a lot of wisdom in these pages: “…it’s these simple decisions that compound as we make them every single second of every single moment of every single day. It is not the Friday nights or Saturday evenings that determine who we are and where we go: it is the Thursday afternoons or Monday mornings that mentor and counsel our being into a full-fledged sense of self.” loc 818, ebook.
Beware, there’s a bunch of swearing too. If you don’t appreciate that, you may have to find another book. I also found it to be repetitive after the first couple of races, but it’s clear that Jill is writing from the heart and has been changed by every single mile that she’s undertaken. Share this book with others who may need encouragement because Jill is a natural cheerleader for the novice runner or athlete of any type.
Some further reading: Confessions of an Unlikely Runner: A Guide to Racing and Obstacle Courses for the Averagely Fit and Halfway Dedicated, Running Like a Girl, and Down Size: 12 Truths for Turning Pants-Splitting Frustration into Pants-Fitting Success.
Thank you to NetGalley and Skyhorse Publishing for a free advance reading copy of this book!
Thanks for reading!