What I then proceeded to do was:
(1) "Starred" any messages I wanted to keep
(2) Used the option to select all "unstarred" messages
(3) Hit delete
This took my gmail account from 299MB to 200MB in about 10 minutes!
The other option widely posted on websites is to use an external mail reader.
Another good idea, but using the web interface and the steps above wasn't too painful a process to quickly cull out messages that I really didn't need anymore.
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