NYC Marathon 2011: Two Month Build from Zero to Race

Right before Labor Day, I got word that there was an entry available to the NYC Marathon. Of course I jumped on it and now I’m entered. The only hitch was…I had only two months to prepare for the race!
Normally, I like at least 4 months to prepare for a marathon. It gives me plenty of time to build, and also use periodization to rest between 3 week build blocks (I use 3 weeks, the usual number is 4 weeks; this is 2 weeks of heavy work and then followed by 1 week of lighter effort to recover). I also like to spend more time at longer distances/longer times (ie. 18-20 miles) building my tolerance to maintain tempo speeds.
But this time, I have only two months to get to marathon shape! The last marathon I ran was back in April: the LA Marathon. But since then, I have not run distance but focused on strength building with deadlifting (see Deadlifting is HARD (and Dangerous)), short distance speed ( Ultimate Speed Training), and swimming as I am going for Total Immersion coach certification soon.
Looking at the calendar, I planned out my next 2 months. For my long run, I knew from past experience that I could build about 15 min/week relatively safely. If I could get up to 3 hours of running at least once, preferably twice, I knew at least I could finish the race.
Thankfully, the calendar looks like there are enough weeks to start at 1 hour for my long run and then building each week by 15 min and then right before the marathon, I should have time for 2 weeks of 3 hour runs. However, I would get no rest via normal periodization training blocks. Thus, I would have to be careful in my build.
Next, I would need to build up my anaerobic speed capacity at the low end. These would fill out the other 2 workouts of the week. One would be a neuromuscular workout on the treadmill, focused on training my nervous system to move my legs as fast as possible. The second would be a track workout, starting gingerly with 400s and hopefully moving to 800s and then a few mile repeats by race day.
For injury prevention during this build, I planned to use my TPMassageBall QuadRoller at least once, preferably twice a day to keep my calves and flexor halicus pliable and not tight. Those muscles seem to get tight very easily and I must make sure they do not get too tight for too long. Otherwise, that might wreck a training week and I don’t have time for that. To help further, I am making sure I take Sportlegs supplements and Acid Zappers to keep lactic acid from collecting in my legs and causing further tightness and soreness.
I would continue my deadlift/bench press/weight lifting but drop that back to once a week and maintain my strength.
As of this week, I have run up to 1:45 and things seem OK. I am running conservatively out and then pick it up for a gentle negative split on the way back.
It was painful running 400s. The first day I tried to run 10×400 but ended up only running two laps, even if those my fastest ever 400s. The next week was much better, running 8×400 at slightly slower, but still faster than my fastest, 400s. The speed increase here was definitely gratifing. However, my “stirrup” muscle chain, running from the inside of my left lower leg around the bottom of my foot and back along the outside of my lower leg, was very sore. I had to give time to let that recover.
It will be interesting to see how fast I race NYC marathon on only a two month build. I hope that my LA marathon fitness comes back, and that all my swimming and weight training has paid off.