CCNA took me 3 month, and my main study equipment was a 1721 and a 2924. the NP took longer, but thats partially due to motivation on my part. Something else that is nice is called GNS3/dynamips/dynagen, which is basically the equivilent of VMware for cisco. IT lets you run virtual routers, not simulated, but virtualized, and you can even bridge them into your production network, The only catch is you need a copy of the actual IOS.
1721 can be gotten pretty cheap, and they even do trunking. be careful on the 2924s, because there were two different itterations, and the first itteration does not support trunking. Any other questions feel free to ask.