Success Story: Judy Ochs

October 27, 2010 at 6:36 am Leave a comment

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.  ~Hebrews 12:1

I’m a sucker for a good success story.  Especially when it’s a success story from one of my friends.

I met Judy Ochs two years ago through church.  She was the leader of my small group in a Bible study I was taking.  Her dry sense of humor instantly drew me in, as I’m also a sucker for witty people.  Judy also has an incredibly humble, God-first character that inspires others to live the same way.

Her unassuming demeanor is the reason I didn’t find out all of Judy’s story right away.  Never one to brag about herself or her accomplishments, I only discovered how much she had accomplished in bits and pieces.  I was inspired to write about her after seeing recent chronicles of training for a marathon, posted on Facebook in the weeks before and the days immediately after the race.

At 51, Judy isn’t your typical athlete.  In fact, in 2003, Judy would never have considered the idea that someday she could run a marathon.  Overweight and out of shape, Judy and her husband, Richard, read and followed the book “Fit or Fat” to overhaul their lifestyles.  They drastically altered their eating habits and began to add exercise into their daily routine.  Over the course of the next year, Judy went on to lose around 120 pounds.

Judy in 2003, before she turned her lifestyle upside down.

Judy AFTER, with her husband Richard. The two of them undertook the journey together.

In 2008, Judy added running to her repertoire.  Her first run was the Wichita River Run with her friend Wendy Evans.  Wendy encouraged her in her running, and even planted the idea of a half marathon in Judy’s head.  Intrigued by the idea of such a challenge, Judy first started training for a half marathon.  On the day she turned 50 in 2009, Judy hit the pavement – again with her good friend Wendy – and completed a half marathon.

That wasn’t enough, however.  Judy’s son, Justin, had a friend who had completed the Boston Marathon.  She inspired Judy to start training for a marathon, because “I needed to prove to myself that I can do it,” she says.  She ran through the long, hot summer of 2010, some days running before dawn to take advantage of somewhat cooler temperatures.

It all paid off.  Earlier this month, Judy completed the Prairie Fire marathon.  The biggest part of her success was her support team.  “There were people all along the race path,” she says.  “Running through Cowtown was the worst, because we had already run 20 miles and we hit loose gravel.  It was also dead quiet, because there wasn’t anyone there to cheer us on.

“Coming out of Cowtown, though, three old friends of mine were waiting to cheer me on.  They helped me finish out the race and encouraged me to the finish line, just like they’ve supported everything else in my life.”

Judy's friends have encouraged her throughout all the ups and downs in her life.

Judy’s weight-loss and fitness journey over the last seven years has made her reflect on the way God directs her path, even when she doesn’t see it.  When her daughter, Jill, was diagnosed with celiac disease, Judy had to once again overhaul the family’s eating habits.  This time, though, it was much easier to make the changes, since Judy was already comfortable with reading labels and tweaking recipes to fit her family’s nutritional needs.

The marathon itself is a metaphor for life, according to Judy.  “It’s great to have a support system,” she says.  “But sometimes in your walk, it’s just you and the Lord.  And you have to trust that He’ll give you what you need.”

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Entry filed under: Life in general.

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