Timothy Karcher's Journal
Written Oct 25, 2010 9:14pmAs usual, it has been a long while since I have posted anything, but I wanted to share with everyone a huge event in our lives. We spent this past weekend in San Diego for the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF) San Diego Triathlon Challenge (SDTC). As some of you may know from our previous posts, the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF) is an awesome organization that helps folks that are challenged (some sort of "disability," of course don't try to tell us that we're disabled in any way) get into/back into athletic competitions. Annually, CAF hosts the San Diego Triathlon Challenge (SDTC), oddly enough in San Diego, California. As many of you know a triathlon is three events (hence the "Tri" part of triathlon), starting with a 1.2 mile swim, transitioning to a 56 mile bicycle/handcycle ride, and ending with a 13.1 mile half marathon (run or racing chair). With the SDTC, a competitor can choose to participate in one event, two events, or all three events.
Last year, four months after my injuries, and a month after getting out of the hospital, CAF brought our whole family (Alesia, the girls, and I) out to San Diego, just to observe their 2009 SDTC. We watched and were all inspired by the courage and determination of these challenged athletes. After observing last year, I promised myself that I would attend the 2010 SDTC and participate.
As many of you know, I planned to do the swim, and have been training up for the past year. Of course all of my training has been lap swimming in a heated indoor pool. I had planned to swim in a local lake several weeks ago, but something prevented me from doing that. I was swimming a mile every Tuesday and Thursday morning, but had only done 1.2 miles in the pool once (just to insure that I had it in me to go that distance).
The one time that I had swam the 1.2 miles in the pool, it took me an hour and 15 minutes to go that distance. I figured that factoring in the cold water and waves, I would likely add five to 15 minutes to my time, so I had the goal of completing the swim in one and a half hours, which isn't really a good time, but I was shooting for just finishing.
Well, I climbed in the Pacific Ocean on Sunday Morning (24 October) at 8:02 AM, to start my swim. I had an able-bodied swim-buddy named Daniel, who had volunteered to swim with me, just in case. In addition, an old family friend, Arch, who lives in San Diego, also decided to swim with me. Now, both of these guys are serious triathlon/Iron Man competitors, so not only was I in good hands, I also got some great tips on how to do the swim, and a lot of encouragement. We started off swimming, and I have to say, I felt like I was doing terrible. My free-style, which is usually my strongest and best stroke, felt awkward, and I felt like I was getting nowhere fast. We swam along, with Daniel and Arch encouraging me, telling me I was doing great (which I thought was a bunch of crap, based on my assessment). When we hit the half way point, I looked at my watch, and it said that we had been swimming only 27 minutes. Now, I was really pissed, because my watch is supposedly waterproof and was pretty expensive, and I figured that the salt water had ruined the piece of crap, because there was no way that we were half way at 27 minutes. We climbed out of the water at 56 minutes, and I had actually taken 19 minutes off my previous best (and only) time. To say that I was ecstatic, doesn't begin to convey how happy I was. It was a great feeling of accomplishment.
People talked about how cold the water was and how heavy the swells were, and I'll be honest I didn't really notice. From the moment that we got in the water, all I could think about was just finishing that swim. The only time that I was ever concerned was when I was being carried down and back up a long flight of stairs to get to the ocean. That, I will admit was a little scary.
I really cannot tell you all what a great time that our whole family had this past weekend in San Diego. Not only did I get to accomplish a huge goal that I had set for myself the previous year, but now I have a new goal, the swim and the bike next year. I probably could have done both this year, but I have not handcycled over about 25 miles yet, so I would have really been pushing it.
In addition to the fun of the competition, we had family and friends show up from Missouri, California, and probably a few other places. Alesia's parents came out, along with some of their friends (Arch's parents and other relatives), and some of our friends who are stationed at Fort Irwin, California also came down. So, we were blessed with a huge cheering section and got to see some folks who really mean a lot to our family.
Having attended the 2009 SDTC as a simple observer, we were also able to see some friends that we had met last year, and get reacquainted/better acquainted. That is one of the great things about CAF, they have a loyal following of challenged athletes and supporting cast, who just keep coming back for more. If you'd like to know more about CAF, their website is
I know that most of you have heard me say this so many times that you're probably sick of hearing it, but my family and I have been so abundantly blessed over this past 16 months. I am still amazed by the blessings that our God has given us, and this weekend was a huge blessing.
Finally, there are pictures posted from this weekend (courtesy of Anna and Dave), so feel free to check them out. As usual, it's bed time, so Good Night and God Bless.
Written Aug 17, 2010 9:08pmI know that it has been a great while since I posted here, but I warned everyone that my postings would be fewer and farther between. Alesia counseled me tonight, and directed me to post a short update, since many folks have been asking her how I am doing.
I'll start off with how I am NOT doing. I am NOT lost in depression, and unable to post. I am NOT suffering numerous setbacks, therefore unwilling to post.
Things have been going very well recently, and I am blessed. I continue my rehab down here in San Antonio, and still spend every weekend at home with the family. Alesia actually lets me drive back and forth now, so that is a blessing.
Rehab is going very well. As most of you will recall, I have the prosthetic legs with knees now, and have been really learning to use them. I have fallen twice, but get back up (which is the story of all of our lives). I took one pretty serious fall a while back, that kept me off my feet for almost a month. I still have some residual pain from a hematoma that formed as a result of that fall, but it gets less everyday. The knees are really great, but the challenge is getting used to them and trusting them. Of course, once you you take a good spill, the trust piece is a bit harder to come by. I get better with them everyday. I now use walking sticks (like ski poles), instead of canes. They are great, because I can't put too much weight on them, as they are designed to be flimsy. They simply help me with my balance. Walking on the prosthetic legs with knees (called C-Legs) is a lot like walking with wet spaghetti as legs, as the knees sometimes bend at the wrong moment. If I sense it early enough, I can correct it, if not, I go down. As I said, falling is a part of life, getting back up is what defines a person's character. And, watch me get back up is really amusing.
I continue to swim, and am up to a mile at a time. My times are still measured with a sun dial, but at least I am swimming a mile. This is in preparation for the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF) Triathlon. I plan to do the 1.2 mile swim in the Pacific Ocean in October. I am really looking forward to that. I hope to do this event every year, and add a new event each year. My goal is to do the 1.2 mile swim and the 56 mile bicycle (handcycle) ride next year. Then the following year, do all three events (1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike ride, and the 13.1 mile run). I have also taken up handcycling, which I really enjoy, even in this Texas heat. I just haven't trained enough yet to do the swim and the bike this year. The bicycle course for the CAF Triathlon is along the southern California coast, and full of hills, so I figured after the ocean swim, my arms might be jello. I am really looking forward to this Triathlon, as watching it last year was awe inspiring.
Alesia and the girls are doing well. They have been doing back to school shopping for the past couple of weeks which is a source of great pain for me. Not only, do they spend all of our money, but then the girls want to do fashion shows to show me what they purchased. I don't see clothes, I just see dollar signs. Oh well, that's my lot in life, having a wife and three daughters. I always think that that money could have been so much better spent on a new pistol or rifle. Needless to say, my vote counts for little. In all seriousness, I believe that the girls are really looking forward to getting back to school. Our oldest, Anna, has been learning to drive, and now with a permit, is constantly wanting to drive. We are blessed, because she is actually a really good driver. Still, riding with a teenager can be somewhat nerve racking.
The young Soldier that I have spoken with you all about in the past is still a challenge. While he doesn't seem to mention his typical mantra ("I hate my life, I wish I had died, and I hate God") anymore, he is still not where I wish he would be. Of cousre, part of it may be that he's a young kid, and just makes poor choices. Still, it's disturbing to watch. He remains in my prayers.
A couple of weeks ago, our church (Memorial Baptist) hosted Tim Lee, an evangelist, to come in a speak one Sunday evening. It was really great. Tim is a bilateral above the knee (bilateral AK) amputee from the Vietnam War. He was, is, and will always be a United States Marine, and he was extremely inspirational. He gave a wonderful message, full of praise for our God, and touched many hearts. Tim and I also had a chance to speak after the service, and it was very enjoyable. I always thank our Vietnam Veterans, because through their sacrifices, they gave our current veterans a true homecoming. Our nation seems to have learned a great deal from how many of our people welcomed back our Vietnam Veterans, and I have not spoken to a single current Soldier who has received anything but a true welcome home from the people of our great nation. Just like getting back up from a fall defines a person, learning from our mistakes defines our nation, which is why we are blessed to live in the greatest nation on the earth. We owe a great deal to our Vietnam Veterans, and I can never forget that, or thank them enough.
I have rambled on enough. It may not quite be bed time, but I am done. I pray that this post finds all of you well. Goodnight and God Bless.
Written Jun 28, 2010 9:48pmWell, today has been one year since I was wounded, and what an interesting and wonderful year it has been. I think back on the past year, and again realize how blessed I am to still be alive, and doing as well as I am doing.
Our family is taking a little time to visit family, and spend some time together. Our girls have gotten a little spoiled over the recent months and are having trouble staying in standard, affordable hotels. Add to that the difficulty that I am having in not indulging them, and you can guess that we're staying in a luxury hotel. Oh well, the kids are having fun and so are Alesia and I.
I fell while walking a couple of weeks ago, and haven't been able to get up on my prosthetics for the past couple of weeks. When we return home, I am really looking forward to getting back up and walking again. I had hoped to be able to bring my legs home and show off my newly relearned walking skills, but that just wasn't in the cards.
While visiting family, we have been blessed to reconnect with friends who we haven't seen in a while, and many who have supported us throughout this past year. This has really been a lot of fun.
I have decided to limit future posting on this site to only significant occasions, once every couple/few weeks. It really feels weird to continue to post here, since it feels like I am just seeking attention. What started as a way to keep family and close friends up to date on my status, kind of spun out of control, allowing us to reconnect with some old friends who we'd lost touch with over the years, and even to make some new friends. This site also reminded me how much the citizens of this great nation care about our Soldiers. It impressed me that so many Americans from across our nation are really concerned for our men and women in uniform. Thank you all for caring.
Well, as usual, it is time for bed. I pray that this finds all of you well. Goodnight and God Bless.