I should've realized way ahead of time I would be my own worst competitor in the Knitting Olympics.
After finally settling on the right length of circular needles and casting on the right number of stitches I thought I was off and running. Until I fell on a hurdle. Instead of actually comprehending the pattern and joining the cast on stitches and knitting a row, I cast on and went straight to row number 2. AAAH! No wonder those M1's were so tough.
So NOW I have frogged and am casting on ONCE again. Then I will need to obsessively recount the stitches to make sure that I have the EXACT RIGHT AMOUNT and then FINALLY I will hopefully be on my way. HOPEFULLY.