So I caught on with those fine folks who my coach suggested I ride with, and starting out everything was fine - we were moving along smoothly and quickly, and I even took a turn at the front. They seemed to be friendly enough.
Then we hit a hill I have a little experience with - there aren't all that many hills around here, so the larger ones tend to stick out. In any case, I knew it was coming, and I'm willing to bet just the anticipation raised my heart rate 10 to 20 bpm. I was sitting second in a line of 6 on the approach, and tried to sit on the guy in front of me. But about a third of the way up I started with heavy breathing, and falling through the pack, eventually getting shaky and having to apologize for my poor bike handling. At about 10 yards from the top a small gap was created, and then they rolled over the top, and I was done.
I actually said to myself "come on, have you been training for this?" but despite what I would have liked to do (close the gap) it was over, my heart rate was already pegged (180+ BPM) and there was nowhere else to go.
I stayed on course for a little while, up until Brooklyn, IN, where I lost the course. My (other) knee has been sore, and getting dropped magnified the soreness. Oh, and I flatted.
So I changed out the tube and headed back home, taking a different route so as to put in the planned mileage. About 10-15 miles later I flatted again, and noticed (because the road and my tires were wet) that I actually had 3 punctures in my rear tire. Now I was out of tubes. I called Gina and had here come pick me up.
Today I'm disappointed, but I also realize that I wasn't THAT far from hanging on. Of course they were headed for more (and longer) hills, but that's ok. It's something I can work on.