Shift 35: Negative Splits


Winter break ended, and the new semester started. Clara Bjergsen told me that this semester was the important one, since I wanted an athletic scholarship. Though the official signing with a university team didn’t happen until fall of senior year, it was in junior year that the scouts would be checking out all our track meets and the coaches would offer verbal commitments.

I felt scared and excited, and I wanted to do everything right. I had to keep up my grades, of course, too.

I asked Aadhya for advice, of course, like I always do when I want to do my best.


She got quiet for a moment.

“I’ve been watching you, Jazz, since you first arrived here nearly a year ago,” she said. “You always work so hard. You’re a straight A student, and anyone can see you’re fit as can be. Just stay healthy, don’t work too hard, keep your life in balance, and you’ll do great!”


I wish I had her confidence in me!

When I went out for my weekend runs, I tried to believe her: Just keep my life in balance, and I’ll do great!


But when I ran, my mind kept thinking. I kept on breaking down the splits I’d need to shoot for in order to break the record.


4:35.42. That’s the number I’m aiming at.

I’m going for negative splits. During cross country, our coach really drilled that into us, and I like it. It feels like the way I approach life, starting out slow, holding back some of my capabilities, and then letting it all loose as I near the finish line.


The hardest part for me is holding some back. Even in practice, once I’m on the track, I want to start full out. So, during my training runs on my own, I work on running within myself. I try to feel if I’m running at two-thirds capacity, one-half capacity, three-quarters or full out.

I try doing a quarter mile at each.


Donnie said he wants to run with me. He wants to build up his wind so he’ll do better at wrestling.

We ran together one day. He kept up during the first mile, and nearly kept up during the second, but when I let out during that last 200 yards, I left him so far behind.

I know I shouldn’t feel good about it–I mean, he’s not a runner. But it still felt really good.


He was an OK sport about it–a little mad, but that’s to be expected, I guess.

The feeling of pulling away from him when I hit the home stretch felt so great. I tried to remember all the sounds and sensations: our feet hitting the pavement together, the cadence of our breathing, then the rush of adrenaline as I pushed forward, and the feeling of breaking away. This is something I love.

This is freedom.

I’m going to start trying this at practice –running with the pack, the pouring it on, and feeling that opening that happens as we reach the end, and I leave them all behind.


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Wonder: Notes on Skilling and Strategies


After eight days of childhood, Charlie is making great progress towards the Wonder Child goals. He’s completed three childhood aspirations: all that’s left will be for him to complete Whiz Kid, which requires the availability of new homework so he can “complete homework while focused” twice and the earning of an A. With five days of school, he should be able to do this. Of course, I’d like him to be able to earn the A more quickly so that he can take vacation days and skill.

I neglected to review the rules until now, and I had forgotten about this one:

  • As a child, the moment the Wonder Child becomes an “A” Student in school, see how many days they have until aging up into a teen. You gain a number of points equal to the number of days left as long as you remain an “A” Student (for example if your child becomes an “A” student and has 5 days left until becoming a teen, you get 5 points). If they are demoted back to a B student during childhood these bonus points are lost. These points become permanent when the Wonder Child becomes a teen if they ended childhood as an “A” student.

If I’d remembered this, I might have sent Charlie to school sooner. This might turn out to be a wash, though, because by staying home, he was able to max childhood skills more quickly, and thus earn logic, violin, fitness, and charisma skills. It’s possible these will make up for the few extra days it will take for him to earn the day due to his three-day vacation at the beginning of childhood.

The super-skill strategy worked fairly well, and I learned more about it, so even the time when it seemed not to work provided me with useful information.

In case you’re not familiar with this strategy, here’s an overview:

  1. Have the child play chess to reach one mental skill point.
  2. Once one mental skill point is achieved, have the child build mental skill in any way to reach level 9 mental. (I usually have the child play Arithmetic Attack, as it provides fun and children will not cancel the action once they start.)
  3. At level 9 mental, have the child play Arithmetic Attack. If super-skilling is working correctly, the child will simultaneously quickly gain physical skill, maxing physical before level 10 mental is reached. If this doesn’t happen through playing Arithmetic Attack, then switch to Research Simpedia, and the child should super-skill physical while researching.
  4. Once physical is at level 9 or maxed, have the child play Keyboard Commander. If the super-skilling is working, then the child will max creative very quickly.

Arithmetic Attack and Research Simpedia worked like charms to provide the super-skilling of physical once Charlie reached level 9 mental. As a result, before his second day as a child was over, he’d maxed mental and physical.

We weren’t so luck with Keyboard Commander. At first, it didn’t work to give us the super-skilling of creative. I tried various things: Research Simpedia, Browse Art. Nothing seemed to work. Then, when I was playing with Florinda and Sparkroot Tea in another save, I discovered that while the creative super-skill didn’t work for one of them, it did for the other. This led me to experiment, and I discovered that if the super-skill doesn’t work at first, just keep trying. For it did eventually work. It’s possible that the chances of it working are increased if the child is “inspired,” so Browsing Art might be a helpful way to kick start it. But it’s also possible that simply taking a break and then coming back at it will also work. At any rate, we were eventually able to get Keyboard Commander to super-skill creative, so Charlie had maxed Mental, Physical, and Creative by the end of his fourth day as a child.

Social skill is very easy to max: just choose those social interactions with the social skill icon (the mouth with the speech bubble): talk about school, pop culture reference, and goof-off. Goof-off can have negative relationship consequences if the child goofs off with a Sim that he or he doesn’t have a good relationship with, but Charlie was able to goof-off with his mom and it increased their relationship.

Heading into Charlie’s first weekend as a child, he’d maxed all four childhood skills. By the end of Sunday, he’d completed all three aspirations save for Whiz Kid.

One advantage to maxing childhood skills early is that the child then gains adult skill while engaging in activities: once creative is mastered, playing the violin will garner violin skill points. Swimming will garner fitness points. Chess will gain logic points. Social interactions will gain charisma. For a wonder child, this is useful!

With the aspirations, I switch between them frequently. This allows Charlie to make progress with the activities he’s currently engaging in. I plan to try this technique with adult aspirations, too, once he’s a teen. For example, Friend of the World requires that the Sim meet someone new in three locations: Body Builder requires working out at a gym, and the Painter one requires viewing art at a museum, so I can switch between these three so as to maximize the visits to the other lots.

The first reward trait I purchased for Charlie was “Incredibly Friendly.” I find this to be the most useful first trait to buy because it makes completing the social aspiration a breeze. With this trait, friends are often made after the first introduction or within a few friendly exchanges thereafter. This will also be useful when Charlie works on the Friend of the Word aspiration as a teen. (I anticipate that he should be able to complete this within a few days, depending on how long it takes him to max charisma.)

At this point, my goal is for Charlie as a teen to complete Friend of the World, the Club aspiration, Body Builder, the Painting, and possibly the music aspiration. Five aspirations is a lot, but he’ll have a good head start on the skills, so he might be able to do it! I’m going to be doing some serious strategizing as we get closer to that time.

I’m very glad that I chose glutton as Charlie’s childhood trait: that glutton zest just seems to provide an enthusiasm that makes Sims skill so fast! Plus, it takes less time to eat!


For the teen trait, I’m considering (at present) Outgoing, Creative, or Active. All three of these seem to fit who Charlie is, and they all three would provide benefits to completing aspirations. We’ll see what we end up choosing when we do the birthday spin!

It’s been really fun to approach this challenge a second time, especially since aspirations are so much easier than they were the first time I played this, in October-November 2014!

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