A couple of people inquired, so here's a race report.
Short version: Started off well, back of pack, tried a break, got reeled in just as the group accellerated, couldn't keep up, finished about 400m behind.
Long version: Here's the "overly verbose" version of my first race last week (started badly, got behind some slow riders, the main group established a lead that I never caught, lapped me and I hung on their wheels (bad form, I'm told) 'til the end).
So Saturday's race (3/15) was 30 minutes on a 1 1/4 mile loop, the 5's all started out together followed shortly by the women's/juniors group. I started out okay, still at the back of the pack but the group was all together. There's a 1/2 mile long straight section that was going into the wind, so the leaders would pull everyone through that section at about 20 mph, which seemed very slow when I was sitting in. So after about 15 minutes/5 laps, I decide to try a break. Right at the end of the 1/4 mile straight section I go around everyone and push the pace up as much as I can without completely blowing up. This keeps up along the 5/8 mile back part of the loop until we hit the straight again. The group reels me in and goes by in one long, straight paceline, so I can't cut in until the end, which means I've done most of the 1/2 mile straight into the wind on my own. Should have dropped back to the end more quickly.
I start to recover, since this "break" was a fairly big deal for me, but with three laps to go, the main group starts to accellerate. I try, not hard enough apparently, but can't hang on, so the rest of the race is spent among the stragglers, watching the group slowly get farther and farther ahead. Finished about 300 or 400m behind the group, probably 15th or so out of 20.
So this week's lessons are (1) maybe it's better to save as much as possible for the end, at least in a race like today, (2) stick with the pack if at all possible, (3) train harder/get stronger and (4) get out of the wind if you can. Being new to racing, the temptation is to think I should know more than I do, but it seems that a big part of the process is to make mistakes and learn from them.
This is posted mostly for n00bs like me who might be able to gain a little situational perspective, since I like gleaning what I can from other n00bs' reports. Abusive harangues and any advice from more experienced members are welcome.
Going to get under the hood and work on the engine now, and yes, I need to HTFU. Still, had a good time.