Did a great test on Quandary today. Up in 1:35 and down in 1:10 - 10 minutes faster both up and down than my previous best. It's getting close to the end now, so I'm figuring out my gear and finalizing.
In this test, I managed to maintain 2200'/hr for the whole 90 minutes, which is my goal, and it's the first time my speed didn't lag in the last 1200' or so. Yes, it was slower in the rocks, but I was jogging on the flatter sections, so it averaged out. If I can double my endurance, I have the opportunity to crank out a sub-3 hour race pace on Elbrus.
Based on input from a participant in last years race, I tested the Salomon XA 3D Fastpacker (basically a high-top version of the XA 3D). I like the high-top because I have a tendency to roll my ankles if I'm fatigued, but it's only a little heavier than the trail runner. They've been working great on my machines, and sure enough, were awesome on the trail. Fast and light.
I've been using LEKI Corklite Aergon Speed Lock Trekking Poles, and I totally love them. They have traditional style adjustable straps, so if you know how to use cross country ski poles the "right" way, you'll be able to use these. The clip-locks are great, and way better than the twist-friction-locks. Speaking of cross country skiing, I did great with the poles today, even double-poling, and with the CNS training I've been doing, had a lot less mental fatigue from placement issues.
I'll be getting my crampons worked out in the next week, and I might go to Rainier to do some laps and test everything out in the cold and snow. That's enough time and space for now - more later ;)