Aluminum core, plastic tank radiators don't need a lot of reasons to fail.. Once they're more than 5-6 years old they are on borrowed time - particularly if you did not change your coolant periodically..
I'm wondering if maybe you may have cracked the head or blown the headgasket when you pegged the temp? If so, that would put a very large surge of combustion pressure into the cooling system which will really weaken the radiator..
If the engine runs well now, it may have just been the last surge of pressure which might have done it..
Newbie - you deserve to walk a while...