Was it the slow sparge? And should I ALWAYS take the 45 minutes?
The slow sparge might have helped. Current wisdom from the malting guys is that (most) modern malts are well enough modified that you don't need to spend as much time mashing, but to get optimum extraction you should increase lautering time. Under optimum conditions, it might only take 30 minutes to get full mash conversion, but for optimum extraction you might want to go as long as 90 minutes on runoff. This according to a presentation by a rep. from Briess malt(?) at the 2009 NHC conference, although I can't find a link at the moment.
Other factors, like malt crush and proper pH might have helped as well. Also, make sure that your thermometer is properly calibrated. A few degrees of temperature error one way or another can affect mashing efficiency.