After the beating I took on Saturday, I decided to try something different today, well not really different, but revisiting the past.
I went back to Mary Jane, but with a smaller gear.
I knocked 2+ minutes off my previous best riding a hardtail, with a 5o.4" gear (as opposed to a rigid with a 53").
Other than the suspension fork, and the smaller gear, I ran the Maxxis Ignitor (f), Aspen (r) combo pack. Weather was warm and humid, but honestly I've become accustomed to the heat and humidity, so it can't really be considered a factor (so accustomed I might have created more work for myself by not running the a/c in the shop today). I used a hydration pack so I wouldn't have to try and drink with my left hand, and to hopefully give my right as much of a break as possible.
I think the smaller gear and the squishy fork worked in concert with one another to be faster. The smaller gear kept me seated or low, hovering just off the saddle, so the fork wasn't pogo-ing all about. Staying seated I could lay down the power (okay stop laughing now), while the fork did it's job soaking up the rough stuff. Curiously, although my thumb was inoperable and numb for 5 or 10 minutes after the ride it didn't feel any worse riding than it did all day, and actually feels the best it has all day right now, about an hour since finishing my ride.
I think if I'm going to race or ride offroad I'm going to need the fork for awhile.
Unfortunately the suspension fork I own doesn't fit my Singular, and I'm not in the position to buy a new fork, especially not the one I really want.