The day before the Long Island Marathon, runners swarmed the Mitchel Athletic Complex in Uniondale, rummaged through the Health and Fitness Expo for discounted sportswear and competed in warm-up races.
Memories of the Boston Marathon bombings were still fresh, but many runners said stepped-up security at the local event made them feel safe, not scared.
Marilyn Manuel, 54, of Roosevelt, cheered members of her team -- Black Girls Run -- as they glided Saturday across the 5k finish line on the athletic center's track.
"This is not a time to be afraid," she said. "You gotta conquer and do what you gotta do."
A group of teachers from Wantagh's Forest Lake Elementary, sporting bright pink tank tops in support of breast cancer awareness, ran together. They're coming back for Sunday's half-marathon to support a colleague who's in the race.
One teacher said she reflected on the April 15 tragedy in Boston before lacing up for the 5k.
"I did think about it for a second this morning," said Michelle Zipfel, of Smithtown. "Not for my own safety, but in memory of those people and what they went through that day."
Parents -- many of whom are running in the marathon Sunday morning -- rounded their children up for Saturday's "kids' run" -- a short dash down a stretch of the track.
Four-year-old Gabriel Pflug of Bethpage competed for the first time at the urging of parents Michele and Christopher Pflug. The boy's dad is running the marathon.
"We like him to start being involved in being active and getting out and doing things," Michele Pflug said of her son.
After a 100-meter dash with her peers, Madeline Spilich, 6, of Syosset, ran a full lap with her dad, Matthew, 35.
"I'd like to get to Boston someday" for the big race, Matthew Spilich said. He's signed up for Sunday's half-marathon and says he isn't anxious.
Just weeks after the bombings, he said, the local event "is probably the safest race you'll ever find."
LI Marathon 2013 guide
PARKING: The closest spot to park near the finish line is inside Eisenhower Park. Participants are advised to arrive before 7 a.m. to avoid delays due to road closures. Use the Hempstead Turnpike entrance.
SECURITY: Only registered runners in the starting area on Charles Lindberg Boulevard. Spectators may not bring bags to the finish area in Eisenhower Park, and runners must use the clear bags provided at check-in.
Charles Lindbergh Boulevard, from 5:30 to 9:30 a.m.;
Merrick Avenue (north of Hempstead Turnpike), from 7:30 to 9:45 a.m.;
School Street (Old Country Road to Railroad Avenue), from 7:45 to 10 a.m.;
Salisbury Park Drive southbound, from 7:45 to 10:30 a.m.;
Railroad Avenue, from 7:45 to 10 a.m.; Post Avenue (Railroad Avenue to Jericho Turnpike), from 8 to 10:30 a.m.;
Jericho Turnpike (Post Avenue to Brush Hollow Road), from 8 to 11 a.m.;
Northern State Parkway exits to Post Avenue and Wantagh Parkway, from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.;
Park Boulevard, Merrick Avenue entrance from 7:30 to 10 a.m., subject to earlier closure