First, congratulations on your desire to push yourself for this distance! You friend will tell you that this is no small accomplishment.
I'm assuming you have little-to-no physical activity now. BE CAREFUL!!! Your risk of injury is significant. Slow and steady, my friend. (This is coming from a former couch-potato myself, and recently completed my third LA Marathon in March.) Currently training for the San Diego Rock 'N'Roll Marathon in a few weeks, and looking to take an HOUR off my LA time!
Try to find a Marathon training course or group in your area. Contact local running clubs.
Books: John "The Penuin" Bingham has several good ones out, his most recent is "Marathoning for Mortals." I loved it.
Consider what I do -- WALK the Marathon! Sure, it takes a lot longer, but it is relatively injury-free, and has a phenomenal success rate.
A great book on this topic is "The Complete Guide to Marathon Walking" by Dave McGovern. Dave is a world-class racewalker and coach, and puts things into perspective beautifully. Listed in the book are "Walker-friendly" marathons. Not all of them are.
Good luck, and keep us posted!
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