Well, I did it. My first race, a 12-mile flat crit.
I left my apartment a bit late (time change and all...), and had to rush to get to the race on time, so I pushed a bit harder than I ought to have getting there. Then I couldn't figure out how to get the stupid number onto my jersey, and had to ask someone for help. Then we were at the starting line, and the guy said "No pumps," but it was too late to go leave it with my stuff, so I unstrapped it from my bike and just threw it away (later recovered it).
I started at the very back of the pack (took one too many warmup laps). The race got off to a relatively slow start, measured by the fact that I could keep up (I have no idea of what is typical). I attacked a bit on the second lap, and hammered my way along the outside of the pack until I was in fourth or so (thought in my mind at the time: "Woohoo! I'm not losing!"). At that point strategy went out the window, and I just tried to hold on. People passed me, and I passed some people (fewer). I later learned that two guys had broken from the front of the pack, and lapped the field pretty early. I didn't see any of this - all I saw was the rear end of whoever I was drafting at the time, and tried to hang onto his wheel.
At some point I found myself in a four-man paceline, but I found that I need some practice before I can do that safely. So I hammered it on, and two of us broke away We did four laps together, two with each pulling. I think the two pulling laps pretty much did me in, and we got passed on the final lap by the two guys we'd dropped earlier. I didn't sprint at all, mainly because I didn't trust myself to do it safely in the condition I was in. I thought I heard the referee say "OK, that's the last one" after I passed, but that may have been the lactic acid talking.
So: Possibly last place, possibly not. Did not die. Had a blast. Will definitely do again