Wednesday, October 19, 2016

What I Read: Running With a Police Escort: Tales From the Back of the Pack

I've blogged, a little bit, about running while fat. Despite this new-found interest, I've been really lax into trying to find the online running community, so it wasn't until Running With a Police Escort hit NetGalley that I learned about Jill Grunenwald. Fat and slow while running? Sign me up! The book is due out this January so this is one of the handful of reviews I've written that will go up well in advance of publication.

On the ball!

If you want to sample some of Grunenwald and her writing before committing to the book, you can find her on Twitter and her health blog (she's on hiatus from the latter but there's plenty of backlog to cruise) and decide for yourself it she's your ~~thang or not. In addition to reading my review, of course!

Image courtesy Skyhorse Publishing

When I read the initial description for Running With a Police Escort, I was a little hesitant. The back copy makes it pretty clear that Grunenwald started running as part of a weight loss goal that she tackled as a result of an email from her sister—the kind of email that would sit with me as concern troll-ish and unwelcome, fan as I am of Health At Every Size. But everyone has different relationships with their weight and their family that I can't possibly know about, so I let it drop. Truthfully, it was relatively easy to look past that part of the story, as Grunenwald doesn't spend a whole lot of time on it. More importantly, she spends zero time evangelizing her weight loss or snarking on her body. Running With a Police Escort could have been a weight loss memoir disguised as a running memoir, but no: it's actually a running memoir!

The conceit behind the title is that Grunenwald acknowledges and embraces the fact that she is a slow runner. Not a fat one: a slow one. Slow enough that she's often followed by the police cars sent to re-open streets after a given race is over. The "slow versus fat" distinction is important; I think a lot of people shy away from running because of hang ups about being slow (maybe more people than shy away because of insecurity over their weight). Grunenwald's memoir is for any runner that feels like a faker or out of place. I definitely do, being slow and fat. Honestly, seeing this pop up on NetGalley, I could have cried. I doubt I'm alone.

My only true gripe is organization. Aside from the chapter on finishing medals ("race bling"), I was really had pressed to see the underlying theme for any of the given chapters. Nor did the book proceed entirely chronologically. I suspect this is a result of the book being born out of Grunenwald's social media presence ("just write like you do for your blog!") but I can't say for sure.

My copy was the eBook copy. I will probably be picking up a proper paperback edition when it comes out. Comfort reads deserve to be in tangible, smell-the-ink-and-touch-the-paper format. And I can guarantee that this will be a comfort read I'll return to whenever I have a bad run.

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