And it turns out I won in my battle with the bottle (and I'm not even alcoholic)(more in [url=http://snail-male.blogspot.com/2011/10/my-first-marathon-qualified-for-b... long version[/url])
In a nutshell: had a great time, finished in 3:34:15, learned lots, rocked the trifuel hat, came through the 42.2 virtually unscathed - especially if one ignores that I walked like a cowboy for the first couple of hours afterwards. Most everything went according to plan (including my pace through about 35kms!) and outside of the nasty westerly winds I can't really point to any downsides to the day. Temps were on the cool side - just nosing above 10C. - the threatened rain held off, the water and gatorade were flowing from the well-staffed & friendly aid stations, I've put on nearly five pounds in the last five days celebrating, and I am already looking forward to next season!
Thank you everyone here @ trifuel for your incredibly helpful words of wisdom that gave me the courage to attempt what I categorically knew was out of the question just a few short years ago.