First, thank you all for your insightful replies - they are much appreciated.
Basically, this section hike started as a JMT hike that grew: when my girlfriend and I realized we could get six weeks off we knew we had to run with it.
We are flying in/out of Reno (plane ticket purchased a long time ago, so transport before and after the hike are a consideration), and we don't really have a specific mileage goal: we are going to enjoy the trip and take things as they come. Someday a full through hike will be in the works, but for now we aren't worried about crossing off a certain section.
My estimation is that for the two of us, 15 miles a day with a few zero days/town stops built in would be about right. Currently, I'm considering whether it may just be more fun to add a few side trips rather than push straight through until we hit the desert. My concern is that the section south of Kenedy Meadows (the southern one) may be extremely hot and dry in early August...is this probable? If so, it may make sense to time the trip to finish in Kennedy Meadows and take a bus back to Reno from Ridgecrest.